Linton Johnson and N.C. State's
Ron Kelley battle for the ball
during the first half.
February 21, 1999
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Ron Kelley scored 18 points and Damon Thornton added 14 as North Carolina State finally put away pesky Tulane 74-60 Sunday in the next-to-last game in Reynolds Coliseum.
The Wolfpack (16-11) remained in NCAA tournament contention despite struggling most of the afternoon against a Green Wave team that had lost six of seven coming in and is tied for last place of Conference USA's National Division.
Kelley made seven of his first eight shots from the field, while Thornton hit double figures for the first time since Jan. 14 against Virginia as the Wolfpack snapped a three-game losing streak and won its 37th straight non-conference game here.
Sterling Davis and Wade Mason led Tulane (10-14) with 14 points each.
N.C. State led 64-60 and used a six-point spurt over a 40-second span to close the deal. An intentional foul called Ledaryl Billingsley was his fifth and started the Wolfpck's closing 10-0 run over the final 3:21.
Tim Wells sank both free throws, Anthony Gundy's perfect alley-oop pass off an inbounds play resulted in a Kenny Inge slam and Kelley made a fastbreak slam seconds later to start the spurt.
Tulane trailed by as many as 11 early in the game as Billingsley, who had scored 20 or more points in four straight games, picked up two quick fouls and sat out the final 16:55 of the half.
But the Green Wave switched to a zone defense to claw back into the game.
Six straight points by Kelley gave the Wolfpack a 27-17 lead 8:16 before intermission. But N.C. State turned the ball over four times in the last 4:40 and only led 36-34 at the break.
Inge, suspended for one game by coach Herb Sendek for an attitude problem, returned midway through the first half and received a standing ovation from the Wolfpack crowd.
Inge did little to spark N.C. State's stagnant offense in the opening 20 minutes, scoring one point and turning it over three times in seven minutes of action.
By DAVID DROSCHAK
AP Sports Writer